Jordan Spieth at Masters 2016: Leaderboard Score, Twitter Reaction from Sunday
The tailors at the 2016 Masters wouldn’t even have to break out their tape measures. For the second straight year, Jordan Spieth would pace the field on his way to capturing a green jacket.
It was all set up perfectly. Until it wasn’t.
A historic back-nine collapse sent Spieth spiraling to a second-place finish Sunday at Augusta, as he carded a one-over 73 on his way to finishing two under overall. Spieth finished three strokes behind Danny Willett, who shot a five-under 67 to capture his first major championship.
Because this is 2016 and we know what the people want, let’s just get the Crying Jordan Spieth’ing out of the way:
— Savage (@TheEndIsNir) April 10, 2016
For Spieth, Sunday was a tale of two nines. The world No. 2 played his first nine holes at four under. He carded four straight birdies from Nos. 6-9, giving him a five-stroke lead over the field. At the time, it appeared we were headed for a redux of 2015. Most had already written off Spieth’s competition—and for good reason.
Even the Twittersphere was ready to chalk things up:
Spieth’s Putter = Steph’s Jumpshot.
When it’s on, it’s on.
— Peter Burns (@PeterBurnsESPN) April 10, 2016
Patron at the 9th green: “Spieth has to shoot left-handed to lose this one.”
— Teddy Greenstein (@TeddyGreenstein) April 10, 2016
Unfortunately, Spieth may have been better off if he played the back nine left-handed. Things started off poorly but not disastrously. Back-to-back bogeys on No. 10 and No. 11 brought him back to the field, with Willett’s strong back-nine push getting him back within one of the lead.
Even then things didn’t appear that bad. Spieth was still pacing the field, still a stroke ahead of a 28-year-old Englishman who had exactly zero PGA Tour wins coming into this week.
Then things went off a cliff, splashed into a ravine and detonated a historic amount of dynamite as things blew up on No. 12. Spieth smacked his drive into the water, doubled up on the drink on his first drop shot, went bunker on his second drop and wound up two-putting once he got on the green. The seven gave him a quadruple bogey on the par three, rocketing him all the way back to one under par for the tournament.
Jay Busbee of Yahoo Sports perhaps put it best:
When your shot track looks like a halfback option, that’s not good. pic.twitter.com/wbDTlTrIFq
— Jay Busbee (@jaybusbee) April 10, 2016
And, well, this is just a complete masterpiece:
— Jimmy Donofrio (@JimmyDonofrio) April 10, 2016
The scene was reminiscent of Greg Norman in 1996. As part of a historic collapse that saw Norman blow a six-stroke lead, the White Shark found the drink on No. 12. He wound up with his third second-place finish at Augusta in what was his last real shot at capturing a fourth major championship.
Unlike Norman, Spieth had actually won at Augusta before. Still, the damage was done. Spieth immediately recovered for a birdie on No. 13 and followed it up with another at No. 15, but the hole was too deep. His best chance at making a real push back toward the lead came and went at No. 16, when Spieth pushed a downhill birdie attempt well left of the cup before going in with par.
The 22-year-old Texan closed his round with a bogey on No. 17 and a par on No. 18. Looking at his final scorecard, you wouldn’t think much. Spieth’s one-over score looks fine on paper. It merely looks like Willett came from behind with an excellent final round and ousted Spieth, who was game but not quite good enough.
Anyone who watched the whole way through knows that’s not the case. If you would have told anyone that Spieth would finish his round with seven birdies, most of the field probably wouldn’t have shown up. The media would have scribbled out their “Spieth wins” articles—likely the same ones they hit the delete button on right around No. 12.
Take away those three holes—heck, just take away No. 12—and Spieth is headed to a playoff for his second straight green jacket. But that’s the beauty and despair of golf. One hole can change the entire trajectory of a tournament. In seven strokes, Spieth choked away his Masters destiny and handed it over to Willett—a man who a couple of weeks ago had his first child. A child who was originally due to be born on Masters Sunday.
Instead, Willett had a green jacket placed on his shoulders by the man who let his second slip away.
Spieth spoke of what happened on No. 12, per Steve DiMeglio of USA Today: “Just compounded mistakes, just a lack of discipline to hit it over that bunker coming off of two bogeys, instead of recognizing that I’m still leading the Masters by a couple shots.”
He continued, per the CNN Wire (via Fox 40): “It’s tough, very tough. It was a very tough 30 minutes that I hope does not happen again.”
Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter